A bird’s eye view of India – Part 1

Over the years, my travel on business has taken me to different parts of the world. But the urge to travel on my own spurted when I got myself a bridge camera ( a poor man’s DSLR) to explore our vast nation with its incredible diversity. This post is dedicated to birds of India. It is more visual than verbal for obvious reasons.

I used to visit Delhi every month on business and my client used to put me up in a cosy guest house in Green Park area which is close to Hauz Khas village. Rose Garden is a walkers/ joggers paradise with lush green, mini-forest area. Around 7 am you can spot a variety of feathered friends and some strange bedfellows living in harmony.

Rose Garden, Hauz Khas, New Delhi.
Breakfast buddies!

Sattal ( pronounced Saat – Taal) meaning Seven lakes is a blessed area that abounds with exotic varieties of birds. I’m grateful to my good friend and avid birder Dr Uma for alerting me on this region.

How to reach: Flights to the nearest airport Pantnagar from Delhi and Chandigarh are climate- controlled so it is best to take a train from Delhi to Kathgodam ( I suggest the Shatabdi, convenient timing,punctual and comfortable) and from there Sattal is just a cab ride away.

Blue-billed magpies
Blue-billed magpies are beautiful birds that belong to the crow family and steal eggs from the nests of songbirds. But BBC Earth labels them as ‘inquisitive’ 😎😜 I ‘caught’ one in the act!😳
Striated Laughingthrush.
Sattal- Nainital.
December 2017
Kalij Pheasant. Female
Pangot near Nainital
Streaked laughingthrush
Pangot-Nainital
Himalayan Bulbul
Grey-headed woodpecker, female.
Plumbeus Water Redstart. Flycatcher family. Found in high altitudes.
Sattal, Nainital.

The elusive Koklass Pheasant. Pangot near Nainital.

Birders throng the village of Pangot to get a glimpse of three types of pheasants that are endemic to the Himalayan region.

  1. CHEER PHEASANT
  2. KOKLASS PHEASANT
  3. KALIJ PHEASANT

While the cheer pheasant is almost impossible to locate, the other two are comparatively easy.

Yet, the Koklass pheasant is not easily sighted.

Around 5 AM, SUVs can be seen vrooming across to a village 20 kms away in the hope of sighting a Koklass pheasant. Once the sun rises, they recede into thick vegetation only to surface the next morning.

We started late and had almost lost hopes when all of a sudden, our target was swaying across the road towards the bushes !

Unable to contain myself I jumped out and managed to click some shots. We would have got some more pics but for an oncoming cab that honked the hell out of the poor bird.

It was a moment of triumph because none of the groups that preceded us managed to sight him or her !

Call it first timer’s luck !

Koklass pheasant

Dharamshala and McLeodganj, the abode of the Dalai Lama in India. Here, the photo opportunities were more about fascinating landscape, architecture and people. I clicked some pics of sparrows near my hotel. Here’s a sample

Sparrows – Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.

Manali in Himachal Pradesh is a scenic hill station and a popular tourist centre. Here are two captures

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Bharatpur, Rajasthan. Keoladeo Nationl Park. An UNMISSABLE shrine for a birder.

How to reach: Take the early morning Delhi- Jaipur Shatabdi express train and get off at Bharatpur. While the train was running full at Delhi, almost 90% of them alighted at Bharatpur. The railways may want to rename the train as Bharatpur Shatabdi.

A ‘paisa vasool’ moment !

Bluethroat. A rare sighting of this small bird with blue and red throat. Bharatpur bird sanctuary.

Although the little beauty (L 14 cm) was just in front of me I could not spot it.

Not wanting to miss this moment, my guide Vishnu grabbed my camera and clicked the first two pics and I managed to shoot the last two.

“A small, brightly colored bird of the far north, the Bluethroat is found in North America only on the tundra of Alaska and the Yukon Territory. It is common, however, across Europe and Asia where it is not restricted to tundra habitat.” – allaboutbirds.org

Bluethroat
Bar-headed geese
Painted Stork
Sarus Cranes
Partridge

Hope you relished these images. I will upload the rest of my collection of birds of South India in Part 2. Stay tuned!

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